Abdominal Pain: Causes and Warning Signs
Whether you call it a stomachache, tummy ache, or bellyache, the truth is abdominal pain is something we all experience from time to time.
For the most part, abdominal pain is minor and easily treated at home. However, when severe, sudden abdominal pain manifests, it’s often a warning sign of a significant health problem that may require emergency treatment.
Types of Abdominal Pain
There are two distinct types of pain:
Acute Abdominal Pain: Sudden, severe pain that is so disruptive, it often leads to patients seeking emergency medical care. It’s important not to ignore this type of pain as it could signal a medical condition that requires surgical treatment, such as appendicitis.
Chronic Abdominal Pain: This is pain experienced for more than three months. The abdominal pain may be constant (chronic) or come and go (recurring).
Chronic abdominal pain is often described as less severe and longer-lasting than acute abdominal pain, but this does not mean a less severe disease or condition.
What Causes Abdominal Pain
The causes of abdominal pain vary. It can result from chronic digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or peptic ulcers, or sudden conditions caused by inflammation, blockages, or infection.
Common Causes of Acute Abdominal Pain
- Appendicitis – Inflammation of the appendix
- Acute Pancreatitis – Sudden severe inflammation of the pancreas
- Cholecystitis – Inflammation of the gall bladder
- Abrupt obstruction to the small intestine or colon
- Gallstones and bile duct stones
- Perforated gastric or duodenal ulcers – ulcers that create an opening in the intestinal wall
- Ruptured aortic aneurysm –Rupture of a weak area in the wall of the vessel that supplies blood to the abdominal organs
Other common causes of abdominal pain include:
- Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
- Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
What Symptoms May Accompany Abdominal Pain?
When we speak of the abdomen, most of us immediately think of our stomach. But our core houses many vital organs, including the kidneys, liver, intestines, appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, and reproductive organs.
Therefore, abdominal pain is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Change in bowel habits
- Flatulence and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite
More significant warning signs that something is not right are:
- Pain or pressure in your chest area
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Pale skin
- Fatigue or feeling lethargic
- Fever and chills
- Flu-like symptoms
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Tenderness in the belly
- Urinary problems
- Missed menstrual periods
When to Visit the ER
You should seek immediate medical care if your pain is severe enough that you can’t sit upright and need to curl into a ball to get comfortable.
You should always visit the ER when your abdominal pain is due to an accident or injury or if you experience pressure or pain in your chest.
Please visit Prestige ER if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Bloody stools
- Vomiting up blood
- Fever greater than 101°F
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Jaundice – Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Swelling or severe tenderness of the abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
- Pulsating mass in the abdomen
- Loss of consciousness (fainting)
All these are serious symptoms of potentially life-threatening conditions that require immediate emergency evaluation.
Prestige ER is available to evaluate and treat conditions associated with severe abdominal pain. Our extensive diagnostic capacity includes ultrasounds, CT Scans, X-rays, and a full clinical laboratory to help our doctors identify and treat your condition fast and effectively.